Let's assume you are writing a cover letter for a tenure-track position in the US in computer science. In the cover letter, you would like to express your affinity to potential research areas and your openedness to collaboration with the corresponding researchers. You do not wish to promise collaboration, since it always involves the other side. How to formulate it properly and concisely?

Here is a sample I found somewhere online (don't ask me where):

At the School of GreatDiscipline at the ImportantCity College I would:

  • 〈irony〉 grab away your students for my useless projects 〈/irony〉

  • 〈irony〉 spend lots of your money without return 〈/irony〉

  • 〈irony〉 finally reduce the percentage of women down to zero 〈/irony〉

  • ...

  • welcome collaboration with the researchers from the areas X, Y, and Z,

  • ...

(Of course, replace the ironical parts by proper formulations.) Here are some choices I considered:


  • be open to ...
  • envisage ...
  • favor ...
  • promote ...
  • facilitate ...
  • offer ...
  • welcome ...

collaboration with ...].

All of them seem not ideal to me; I'm stuck. Some of them might be even a poor choice. Any suggestion for an appropriate phrase?

An aside: This question primarily seeks advice from academics who have successfully gone through the tenure-track process already or are overviewing this process. If it is the case for you, say so.

  • 1
    My personal approach would be to highlight existing collaborations that you would "bring along with you" and in that flow mention that you are looking forward to building new collaborations inside the institution as well. That "shows off" yourself as a collaborative person, promises nothing to anyone specifically (other than the ones you have and wish to keep) and should not make anybody feel threatened you are aiming to steal their students for your useless projects. – skymningen Jan 15 '18 at 12:23

As a general rule, I use: If something might come across as too direct or even threatening, package it with a positive example. In this case, that means to first mention existing and well-working collaborations which you (and your current collaborators) wish to keep up, even if you changed your position. In the best case, some of your current collaborators would be your references and would mention the same in their LOR.

Packaged with this information, mention that you look forward to building new collaborations as well. Keep this general, so nobody will feel forced into anything (and you do not force yourself into anything blindly). But definitely, mention the current collaborations specifically (that should only flatter your collaborators and serves as a nice example those collaborations do exist and are not one-sided.)

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  • Thank you! mention the current collaborations specifically - Do you mean real names? Wouldn't institutions suffice? My current collaborators won't see this cover letter anyway; they are from different institutions... – Hexal Jan 15 '18 at 12:51
  • Unless they are against being mentioned, yes, I would offer real names. In grant applications, you also often have to list existing and potential collaborations with real names, so I don't think that should be a problem. I would maybe contact them if they are okay with that to be sure. – skymningen Jan 15 '18 at 12:53
  • Got it, thank you! One final question: have you had luck with tenure-track applications this way? – Hexal Jan 15 '18 at 12:59
  • I am not far enough to apply for tenure yet. I have so far had luck with applications in general, with collaborators wanting to keep collaborating and people wanting to collaborate with me because I collaborate with someone who referred them to me. – skymningen Jan 15 '18 at 14:33
  • Ok, in this case, since you have not gone through this process yet, I have to unmark your post as THE solution to give the other people, who have already gone through this process, a chance. – Hexal Jan 17 '18 at 15:12

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